Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew has made only two major league starts. On Monday in his team’s series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he’ll have the additional pressure facing big brother J.D.
“Ever since I was a little baby, I guess,” 23-year-old Stephen said when asked how long he’s been waiting for this. “When J.D. and Tim were out in the yard playing, I also wanted to play with them. For me, it’s exciting. It’s a dream come true to start the game, and hopefully everything works out. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”
Stephen Drew is 0-for-7 since being called up from the minors Saturday to replace veteran shortstop, Craig Counsell, while J.D. Drew went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the Dodgers’ 11-3 loss to St. Louis and enters this game mired in a 3-for-20 slump (.150) over his last six games.
The Diamondbacks were unable to sweep a three-game series from the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend, losing Sunday’s finale 10-5. Luis Gonzalez had an RBI double in the sixth for his 2,300th career hit. It was also his 523rd double, tying him with Willie Mays for 32nd on the all-time list.
However, it was the pitching that had Arizona manager Bob Melvin concerned. Starter Claudio Vargas allowed two homers and six runs before being pulled after 3 2-3 innings. It was the fifth time in the team’s last nine starts that a starting pitcher failed to reach the fifth inning.
“We have problems when our starter goes three or four innings,” Melvin said. “We feel the repercussions of it for days to come sometimes. We’ve just got to get some more innings out of our starters. We’re just giving up too many runs early, and we’re having to go to our bullpen too early.”
Enrique Gonzalez (2-2, 5.14 ERA), who has struggled all season with consistency and hasn’t won in a month, will try to give Melvin and the Diamondbacks (45-46) a quality start. Half of Gonzalez’s eight starts this season have been five innings or less.
The 24-year-old right-hander pitched four innings in his last start on July 4 against the Dodgers—his only start against them—giving up seven runs and walking two in the 11-3 loss. Gonzalez hasn’t won since June 13.
The series from July 3-5 between the two teams was a heated one. Eight players were hit by pitches in the series, including three directed at Dodgers first baseman Nomar Garciaparra in the opener. Melvin denied any of the instances were intentional, saying they were an effect of pitchers trying to go inside on him. The Diamondbacks manager believes what happened is over and shouldn’t carry over to this series.
“Guys got hit on both sides,” Melvin said. “I just think the umpires did a good job. They never had to start a game under a warning.”
Garciaparra had Sunday off as the Dodgers were swept in a four-game series by the St. Louis Cardinals. Los Angeles (46-46) is .500 for the first time since May 16, when the team was 20-20.
“We just looked flat,” said the Dodgers losing pitcher Brad Penny. “We didn’t play very good. We looked sloppy. We didn’t play with enthusiasm. We looked tired. If we want to play in the playoffs, we’ve got to pick it up a lot.”
The Dodgers will send Aaron Sele (6-2, 2.91 ERA) to the mound Monday. The right-hander has won his last three decisions, including his most recent one July 9 against the San Francisco Giants. He pitched six innings and gave up one run while striking out a season-high seven batters in the 3-1 win.
Sele is 3-0 with a 2.57 ERA in four starts against the Diamondbacks. He pitched six innings against them on July 4, giving up two runs while striking out five in beating Gonzalez.